Pakistan will buy 500 MW of power from India, says an NDTV Profit news item. 500MW is the initial requirement; it can increase to 5,000 MW in the next 5 years! A team of Indian experts will discuss the terms and conditions of supply with Pakistan's Central Power Purchase Agency. Notice the speed at which this power trade is progressing-
- In April, 2011 there were Secreatry level talks between India and Pakistan regarding power supply to Pakistan.
- In October, 2011 the Group of Experts from both the countries considered the proposal for setting up a joint transmission infrastructure. The Hindu called it an extension of onion diplomacy!
- Anand Sharma's Feb-12 visit to Pakistan with 150 member delegation gave further impetus to this.
- Last week a Delhi Company offered power to Pakistan @ Rs. 7.50/ unit.
- Though Pakistan found the price to be high, it still agreed in principle to buy.
- World Bank will extend a loan for setting up the transmission line in six months.
Let us move on to another similar development.
NTPC to supply 250 MW to Bangladesh says an Economic Times report dated February 29, 2012. Power Purchase agreement between the countries has been inked. Transmission lines between the countries will be set up by July-13.
Now look at India's power situation. Though India is the fifth largest producer of power in the world, it also is one of the lasrgest power deficit countries. The Central Electricity Authority of India in its report of May-2011 projects a peaking shortage of 17,519 MW or 12.9% for 2011-12. While States like UP, Maharashtra, Bihar, J&K & MIzoram will have deficits in excess of 25%, Andhra, Tamilnadu, Punjab, West Bangal, etc will experience a deficit in excess of 15%. As a Mckinsey report puts it, blackouts and load shedding have artificially suppressed the demand. In other words, the demand-supply gap can be higher than that estimated by Central Electricity Auhtority.
Wikepedia's article on Electricity Sector in India puts the number of those who do not have electricity in India at 300 mill by December, 2011.
So that is the position of power situation in India. With such a delicate power balance, the UPA2 is very eager to supply electricity to Pakistan and Bangladesh! And look at the audacity of Pakistan which is a worse power shortage country whose generation has shrunk by 50% in recent years and which needs the Indian power desperately-
- an official of the Pakistan's power ministry says that his country needs to ascertain 'how much India is relying on electricity trade as New Delhi had abandoned the Iran-Pakistan-India gas pipeline project, saying Pakistan is an unreliable partner' reports NDTV Profit! Looks like beggar can be a chooser!
- Pakistan's 'The Nation' newspaper alleges that India built dams on Pakistani rivers in violation of Indus Water Treaty, generated power and succeeded in selling the same to Pakistan!
Some 'progressive' will immediately point out that India's installed capacity is 186 GW and these 500 MW and 250 MW do not constitute even 1% of the capacity, that this has to be seen in 'context', that it will open up trade ties with Pakistan, etc.
Let's see the 'context'. Let's contrast the above enthusiasm of the Indian Government to meet Pakistan/ Bangladesh's demands with what it has done to the demand of one of its States. Tamilnadu has been reeling under power shortage due to a callous DMK Government ignoring the sector for whole of its 5 year rule. The current deficit in Tamilnadu is estimated at 4000 MW. Jayalalitha, as soon as she assumed power in May, 2011 wrote the Prime Minister to allocate 1000 MW from the Central Pool. The same UPA Government which was ever ready to export power to Pakistan and Bangladesh, allocated just 100 MW, that too after many reminders and 9 months! Even the power it purchased from Gujarat and UP could not be used because of congestion in the transmission.
Now if 750 MW is less than 1% of India's installed capacity, so is 1000 MW. Why this hurry to supply power to Pakistan and Bangladesh? Is it just that a 'progressive' 'secular' media will hail this as a path breaking foreign policy initiative of UPA Government? Is the desire to be seen as 'secular' more important than satisfying the genuine demand of a State of India? Does a State, just because it is ruled by a party which is not part of ruling coalition becomes more alien than Pakistan?